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Whitmer Announces Learning Plan

Jul 01, 2020

To safely reopen for in-person learning next fall, schools across the state will be required to enact one of a range of safety plans based on the COVID-19 threat level their particular region is facing at a given time, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced on Tuesday.

The MI Safe Schools Return to School Roadmap resulted from the work of a 25-person appointed council of education and health practitioners and experts – including MEA President Paula Herbart and other MEA members – to provide minimum steps for districts to use in developing more detailed local plans.

“Nothing is more important than keeping our kids and our educators and all of their families safe,” Whitmer said at an afternoon press conference to release the 63-page plan.

Under the plan, districts must follow certain required protocols but will be allowed to consider whether "strongly recommended" and "recommended" actions are appropriate to local needs and circumstances, Whitmer said after warning: “This virus is very much alive in Michigan.”

The minimum steps outlined in the state plan provide a roadmap back to in-person learning, but things are not “returning to normal,” Herbart said at the press conference.

“It will not be perfect, and there will be curves in the road ahead,” Herbart said. “We owe our students—and the educators who serve them—the greatest measures of clarity and consistency we can manage in an unprecedented situation.”

Importantly – as has been the case throughout the pandemic’s course in Michigan – Whitmer has placed educators’ expertise and voices at the forefront of the state’s plans and responses, Herbart added.

“Educator voices were represented and heard on the Return to Learn Advisory Council—now we need to follow that example and ensure school employees are part of making important health and safety decisions at the local level, as called for in state collective bargaining law,” Herbart said.  Read more.